Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Questions (121, 164, 188)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

121. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to tackle the decline in visitor numbers to here from the UK; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8461/13]

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Michael McGrath

Question:

164. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the action he will take to reverse the decline in visitor numbers from Britain; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8545/13]

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Willie O'Dea

Question:

188. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he expects visitors from Britian to return in greater numbers in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8562/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 121, 164 and 188 together.

They relate to visitor numbers from the UK.

According to the recently published CSO figures, there were just over 6.5 million overseas visits to Ireland last year representing an increase of 0.2% on 2011 levels. While the number of visits from the higher spending Mainland Europe, North America and long haul Markets all registered growth, the number of overseas visits from Britain were down by 3.6%. While the rate of decline in visit numbers from Britain continued to slow towards the end of 2012, it is clear that the slow pace of economic recovery there and weak consumer confidence continues to impact on our visit numbers.

In terms of arresting this decline, I welcomed the report of the Tourism Recovery Taskforce (TRT), entitled "GB Path to Growth", and its recommendations for restoring growth in visitors from Britain which has been reflected in the 2013 plans of the tourism agencies. A copy of the "GB Path to Growth" strategy can be downloaded from the websites of both Tourism Ireland and Fáilte Ireland.  As part of the strategy, Tourism Ireland is refining its approach to targeting potential visitors that are receptive to the type of experience that Ireland can offer, and is conducting an extensive promotional programme this year in Britain to help ensure that we return to growth in visit numbers.

Of course, the major focus of Tourism Ireland's promotions in Britain and other markets this year is on "The Gathering Ireland 2013". An estimated 6 million people throughout Britain claim Irish descent or affiliations to Ireland and these are being targeted through TV, print and online advertising as well as cooperative marketing activities with air and ferry operators featuring the good value fares that are on offer.